The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) board of directors voted on Thursday at the regular board meeting in Trail to close down the reuse centre at the West Boundary (Greenwood) Landfill. The reuse centre is a room where residents could drop off unwanted items for other to pick up and take. Also closing are reuse centres in McKelvey Creek Landfill (Trail) and the Grand Forks Landfill.
In addition, the board also voted to change the Sunday closing time of the Christina Lake Transfer Station to 3 p.m., the Sunday closing of the Rock Creek Transfer Station to 5 p.m. and the Saturday closing time of the West Boundary Landfill to 4 p.m.
Alan Stanley, RDKB general manager of environmental services, said the landfills are reducing their hours of operations because they aren’t seeing enough use. “We expanded these hours as a means of dealing with potential issues of closing some of the unattended dumps that were out there.”
Stanley said they came to the conclusion to change the hours after studying the usage at the landfills over the last year. “We saw there was very little activity in some of these. You’d have attendants sitting their a couple of hours and no one would show up; or maybe one or two. On average there was very little usage during those extended hours.”
As for the closure of the reuse centres, Stanley said it’s because of a number of different factors. “Over the past number of years we’ve noticed a drop in the quality and quantity of items going through there,” he said. “We were trying to figure out why that was. We think it’s because there are so many other options for people. We have the Trash to Treasures Day, in fact we have one coming up on April 16. There are a lot of these Facebook pages where people post stuff for free. The postings are great. They’re full of much better stuff than we’ve seen here lately at our reuse centres.”
Stanley said the reuse centres were originally put in place to help divert waste from the landfill. “They’re really not diverting much waste,” he said. “The stuff we are getting there is somewhat poor quality so most of it goes into the landfill anyway.”
Stanley said they also became more aware, when they were researching, about liability issues the RDKB could face. He said that federal legislation around any items for children—from car seats to helmets to cribs—is very strict. “Diving into this, it’s very clear if you’re giving stuff away you have to confirm that the product isn’t regulated, that there have been no recalls, that all the parts are there,” said Stanley. “We don’t have the staff to do that. We have one attendant on site. If we’re going to do it we need someone there full-time who knows what products are allowed and what products aren’t and what products are set for recall and so on. If we’re going to be in the used goods business, we should do it properly or not be in the business. The quality was declining, the number of materials we were getting was declining, and we have screening and liability issues.”
Stanley said the changes will not occur right away but he added they don’t want to wait too long. “As long as people are aware of the options I’d rather not wait too long,” he said.
Grace McGregor, RDKB board chair, said the vote came down to making the proper choice over the emotional choice.
“There’s a real problem there,” she said. “As much as we’d like to do what makes us feel good, it’s not necessarily the thing at the end of the day that’s good for everyone. And I don’t think anyone wants to pay a lot more taxes to hire an attendant to just look over the reuse centre. We’ll talk about other things that might be helpful such as the Trash to Treasure Days. We also notice people are putting their stuff on Facebook and that’s working really, really well.”